Kenneth Chenault

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Kenneth Chenault
Chenault and his wife at Barack Obama's second state dinner
Personal details
Born Kenneth Irvine Chenault
(1951-06-02) June 2, 1951 (age 65)
Mineola, New York
Spouse(s) Kathryn Chenault
Alma mater Bowdoin College
Harvard University
Occupation CEO of American Express[1][2]

Kenneth Irvine Chenault (born June 2, 1951) is an American business executive. He has been the CEO and Chairman of American Express since 2001.[3][4] He is the third black CEO of a Fortune 500 company.


Early life, education, and legal career[edit]

Chenault was born in Mineola, New York, Nassau County, as the son of a dentist and dental hygienist.[5] His father was Hortenius Chenault a graduate of Morehouse College in Georgia, and a 1939 graduate from Howard University Dental School who passed the New York State dental exam with the highest score ever recorded as of January 2014.[6] Chenault attended the alternative Waldorf School of Garden City,[7] where he served as senior class president.[5] He then received B.A. in history from Bowdoin College in 1973, and J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1976 (on February 10, 2014, it was announced that he had been elected to fill a vacated seat of the Harvard Corporation; the Corporation is the chief fiduciary authority of the University and is the smaller of the two governing boards, the other being the Harvard Board of Overseers).[8][9]

After Harvard, he worked as an associate at the law firm Rogers & Wells (1977–1979) in New York City, and as a consultant for Bain & Company (1979–1981).[8][10]

CEO of American Express[edit]

He joined American Express in 1981, working in the Strategic Planning Group.[11] He became president and chief operating officer in 1997.[11] He became CEO of American Express in 2001.

As CEO of American Express, in 2007 and 2008, Chenault earned a total compensation of $50,126,585[12] and $42,752,461[13] respectively. In 2009, he earned a total compensation of $16,617,639, which included a base salary of $1,201,923, a cash bonus of $10,450,000, an option grant of $3,985,637, and other compensation worth $980,079.[14]

He is currently co-chair of the Business Roundtable,[15] a director at IBM,[4][11] and a member at the Council on Foreign Relations.[16] He is a member of the Executive Committee of The Business Council for 2011 and 2012.[17]

In 1995, Ebony listed him as one of 50 "living pioneers" in the African-American community.[18] Chenault was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2008, he gave the commencement address at Howard University.[19]

In May 2010, he gave the commencement speech at Wake Forest University[20] and Northeastern University.[21]


On November 15, 2010, Old North Foundation recognized Chenault with its Third Lantern Award for individual commitment and dedication to public service. The Foundation honored Chenault and American Express for their significant contributions to the preservation efforts of many significant monuments and landmark structures, including the steeple of the Old North Church.[22]

Personal life[edit]

He resides in New Rochelle, New York, with his wife and children.[23] Kenneth Chenault has been a member of Westchester Country Club since 1990, immediately following the controversy between the PGA Tour and Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "American Express CEO Ken Chenault: 'There's a $25 trillion opportunity'". Retrieved 2015-08-09. 
  2. ^ "An interview with Kenneth Chenault, CEO at American Express". Retrieved 2015-08-09. 
  3. ^ "Board of Directors and Executive Officers". American Express. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  4. ^ a b "Kenneth I Chenault profile". Forbes. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  5. ^ a b "Kenneth Chenault Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story". 1951-06-02. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Ken Chenault: The Rise of a Star" Business Week Dec. 21, 1998
  8. ^ a b "Kenneth Chenault: Corporate CEO". CNN. February 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Kenneth I. Chenault". The White House. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Bianco, Anthony (December 21, 1998). "KEN CHENAULT: THE RISE OF A STAR". Business Week. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  12. ^ 2007 CEO Compensation for Kenneth I. Chenault, Equilar
  13. ^ 2008 CEO Compensation for Kenneth I. Chenault, Equilar
  14. ^ 2009 CEO Compensation for Kenneth I. Chenault, Equilar
  15. ^ "About us: Officers". Business Roundtable. Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  16. ^ See for example the transcript of a luncheon over which he presided: "New Realities in the Media Age: A Conversation with Donald Rumsfeld". Council on Foreign Relations. February 17, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  17. ^ The Business Council, Official website, Executive Committee
  18. ^ "50 who changed America – influential African Americans". Ebony. November 1995. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  19. ^ "Commencement Speech at Howard University". 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  20. ^ American Express CEO to deliver address, Window on Wake Forest, March 22, 2010. Accessed 2010-03-22.
  21. ^ May commencement speakers announced, Northeastern University, March 22, 2010. Accessed 2010-03-23.
  22. ^ "Kenneth Chenault, American Express Chairman and CEO Receives". Bloomberg. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  23. ^ Sexton, Julia (2009-01-23). "Westchester Magazine". Westchester Magazine. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Harvey Golub
Chief Executive Officer of American Express